Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Splinter churches' quest for recognition and respectability

Fr. Chadwick's observations.

A backhanded witness to there being only one church.

The trouble with TAC from the beginning of course is it is always extremely unlikely that former Catholic clergy would be received back in their orders. The church has surprised me by ordaining men almost in that situation, Catholics who left as adults to be ordained as Anglicans. It's not too much of a stretch to think that, like these men, repentant ex-Catholic clergy might be dispensed to serve again, since such conversions, unlike the ones to Anglicanism often were (to get married), aren't opportunistic but based on principle. But there's the internal discipline of the Roman Rite clergy, who personally may have sacrificed for their calling, so again, probably not.

Adding to your point about the Orthodox, they're anti-Western: they think Byzantium (including in the form of Russia, etc.) IS the church, as Dale points out so well in your Orthodox Blow-Out Department. Us: Byzantium is or again should be PART OF the church.

Excellent summary of the Polish National Catholic Church. I didn't realize they were relatively well off; yes, they managed to build churches, and pay priests full-time as far as I know. A couple of reasons, besides the same immigrant thrift that built the American Catholic Church, why they might have at least enough money: a friend who knows them rather well has explained to me that some of their wealthy benefactors no longer go there but to Protestant or no churches, but they support it because they see it as their family's first step out of the immigrant Catholic ghetto to the American dream, to assimilation. Related: a lot of the PNCC, including the clergy, are Freemasons. And they used to be in communion with the Episcopalians; the still culturally conservative Nats ended that. The Nats' virtues are Polish cultural conservatism - not their theology, which doesn't make sense and was originally liberal. Also, they have a point that the Church Local, run by immemorial custom, like the Orthodox, is a good thing.

We don't believe the papacy is "totalitarian" but rather a caretaker of doctrine and customs. Lots of ignorant people in and out of the church don't get that we don't worship the Pope. The liberals in and out are making that mistake with this one, because he expresses liberal opinions, which gets their hopes up. (He didn't make the cover of Rolling Stone for preaching the faith.) He can't change our teachings; that's beyond his office's scope.

Your point - "we're good enough as a church; we don't need Rome" - echoes both the old high churchmen in Anglicanism before Anglo-Catholicism, and liberal high church in the Church of England and strong in the Episcopal Church today: credally orthodox, sacramental, and high liturgically (like us and unlike Catholic liberals), but, unlike much of the old A-Cism, not interested in reconciling with Rome. Anglican authority is church authority to them, so women priests and same-sex unions.

It's still hard for me to say this, because for me, born on the Episcopal side, older A-Cism pointed the way into the church and was a refuge when Vatican II made the mother church inhospitable, but arguably, liberal high church, the Affirming Catholics, ARE the real Anglo-Catholics ("Anglicanism is fully Catholic, as is"). We weren't. Our home was always Rome. The conservative Continuers arguably aren't because they lost and were pushed out.

And, for the conservatives, if not Anglo-Papalism (would-be Catholics, fulfilled in the ordinariates, now part of the conservative revival Pope Benedict briefly led), which Anglicanism? Cranmer, Hooker, and the Articles? (Which the name "Traditional Anglican Communion" evokes.) Or the Affirmation of St. Louis ("western Orthodoxy"), which gives you an approximation of Catholicism? And if they survive the next 100 years or more, what's to stop them becoming like what they left? (For example, the Reformed Episcopal Church is now sort of high.)

"What about the SSPX? Weren't they pushed out too?" Good point, but our teachings are clear; the Anglicans' arguably (my favorite word in this post) aren't or, it seems to me, are mildly anti-Catholic. So the SSPX is on firmer ground, those teachings, and, most important, is not a separate church in principle.


  1. Recognition/respectability - you either have it or you don't. And like obscenity, we can't really define it; we just know it when we see it.

    The OCA got a grant of autocephaly from Moscow. They couldn't do anything with it, because autocephaly is for national Churches, not missions. IOW, they're not autocephalous, and they're not autocephalous because nobody treats them like they're autocephalous. They need to go back under Moscow.

    Alexandria is autocephalous, but she's no longer wedded to her people. Just a Greek outpost, so the overwhelming majority of Egyptian Christians embrace the Coptic Church their Church. At some point in the future, the Patriarch of Alexandria may be from the Coptic line and the Greek Orthodox line will become a footnote. The same sort of divergence is happening in Jerusalem.

    The Ecumenical Patriarch is first among equals until +Kyrill arrives and slaps him around. The EP needs to recognize reality and leave for Athens. Except there are no jobs in Greece for his people.

    The Roman Pontiff is the Patriarch of Western Christendom, except Western Christendom no longer exists. Eventually, he's going to be the Patriarch of the Former Spanish Colonies.

    Rome and Byzantium alike have no idea what they're going to replace the Roman Empire with. So, over time, people will fill the gap for them and ex post facto, that will be the recognized/respectable Church.

    1. The only thing I'd change in this is the Pope might end up being that.

    2. Respect and recognition are relational, so it is never a matter of having it or not, and always a matter of who respects or recognizes whom.

  2. Most of Fr Chadwick's posting these days comprises of passive-aggressive sniping at Rome and expounding an "idiosyncratic" ecclesiology that I'd be surprised would be regarded as doctrinally kosher by the ACC.

    1. That is certainly my impression, from the very little I've ever seen of his blog. Is this a minuscule group? It certainly seems to be pretty teeny, but I would welcome real numbers, if available.

    2. What he strikes me foremost as, is English.

      The Angles want their own Church.

    3. What strikes me most forcibly is the completely arbitrary and totally unhistorical manner in which Chadwick and other regular commenters over there (with the exception for the most part of Ed Pacht, their Diogenes) redefine "Catholic" to suit their experience, prejudices, fancies or predilections. Thus, the visible unity-of-communion and unicity of the Church (as primordial and apostolic a feature of "the Catholic Church" as the necessity of "real" bishops or no to WO) must go, and along with it the practice, however generously interpreted, of communion-for-those-in-communion-only, while, on the other hand, other features of historical Catholicism, such as liturgical worship and sacramentalism, are held to be absolutely necessary. I am tempted to term such a stance, in its essential arbitrariness and its witting and deliberate disregard of the fullness of Apostolic Tradition (esp. as regards ecclesiology), as a kind of, if not gnosticism revived, then "Gnostic Catholicism," with all the oxymoronical absurdities with which such a phrase can be freighted. Small and necessitous Continuing Anglican bodies, even ones so rigidly principled as the Anglican Catholic Church, seem to offer a good flag-of-convenience for such attitudes, perhaps especially because of the complexities and incoherencies of an Anglo-Catholic ecclesiology implemented in "the real world."

    4. Wikipedia says that in the U.S. the Anglican Catholic Church has 135 congregations and 10,000 members; I don't know if that's the rolls or practicing members (Sunday attendance).

    5. In 2006, when I devoted a good deal of time and effort to writing a summary description and analysis of various "Anglican Bodies and Organizations" (both within and without the Canterbury Communion) I wrote the following about the ACC in the USA:

      "The ACC-OP claims six dioceses, 88 congregations, approximately 110 clergy and approximately 4,000 to 5,000 members."

    6. On the very few occasions when I have visited that site, it has struck me as the apotheosis of irrelevance. But ... Anything But Rome, right?

  3. "Excellent summary of the Polish National Catholic Church. I didn't realize they were relatively well off; yes, they managed to build churches, and pay priests full-time as far as I know."

    I'm not sure how well off they are now. Back around 1999 a long-serving priest of the PNCC (now one of their bishops) expatiated to me at length on their relative poverty, and the inadequacies of their clerical insurance and pension plans. Of course, matters may have improved since then.

  4. in detroit the polish people had/has a church within a church, while everyone went to sacred heart major seminary the poles had their own sts cyril and methodius seminary (which still exists) and their own catholic college st marys in orchard lake and while the archbishops would usually assign to national parishes clergy of completely different nationality (for example irish priests to german parishes, italian priests to belgian parishes) to hasten americanization by forcing the people to use english as a lingua franca between clergy and laity, the poles managed to always (to this day too at my parish) to get follow polish clergy. one of the physically largest and grandest churches in the city, sweetest heart of mary, was actually founded by polish schismatics - they even had a dutch old catholic bishop come to visit back in the 1890s before they joined the archdiocese - if i recall right the parish still has control over the property and not the archdiocese.

    half of my family is polish (the other half ukrainian) and they had never heard of the PNCC, likewise me either until I saw it mentioned on fisheaters back in the day and googled it. when i was explaining to family members my on my polish side the discovery they said it sounded like wacko nationalists who put ethnicity before the Church - and that was coming from family members who were super involved in the Polish Roman Catholic Union which ironically, unbeknownst to them, was originally set up set up to help counter the schismatics who would go on to found the PNCC.

    1. Wacko, heh, heh; read:


      by the founder of the PNCC. Barking mad stuff.


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